Easter could be extra sweet for U.S. retailers this year, with consumers planning to spend a record amount stocking their baskets with candy, food, and gifts, said a new survey.
Consumers plan to spend an average of $179.70 this Easter, according to an annual survey released Wednesday by the National Retail Federation (NRF). That’s the highest figure for the holiday since the NRF began recording spending data. Easter falls on April 4 this year.
Increased spending on Easter gifts, food, and candy powered the overall jump, with consumers expecting to spend an average of $31.06 on gifts (up from $27.91 last year), $52.50 on food (up from $51.76), and $25.22 on candy (up from $23.30). Candy was the most popular item for survey respondents, landing on 89% of their shopping lists, regardless of age, gender, or income levels, the NRF said.
The hopped-up sales numbers come just as a fresh round of stimulus checks are hitting bank accounts, consumer confidence is increasing, and anxieties about the virus are easing thanks to the continued vaccine rollout and a declining number of cases.
“Many [people] have figured out how to celebrate holidays safely with family and that is reflected in consumer spending this Easter,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.
The survey showed that 79% of people plan to celebrate the holiday this year. But even those who don’t celebrate Easter will take advantage of holiday sales, with 52% saying they plan to spend an average of $21.11 (up from $17.64 in 2020).
In all, the NRF projects $21.6 billion will be spent this Easter. That’s actually down slightly from last year's forecast of $21.7 billion. The 2020 survey was conducted in early March and likely reflected consumers’ plans before the pandemic led to widespread shutdowns.
Per-person expected spending has increased in each of the last three years, though, rising from a pre-pandemic estimate of $175.85 last year and $151.25 in 2019.
The Easter projections could mean a good rest of the year for retailers. The NRF already had high hopes, projecting in February that 2021 will be one of the best years for retailers in the last two decades. Since then, anxieties have eased for U.S. consumers, with 64% of respondents to a Deloitte survey released Monday saying they now feel safe going to a store, the highest level since the pandemic began. Households also say they are planning to increase spending this year to the highest point since December 2014.